BY THOMAS LITTLE, ALTERNATE STUDENT TRUSTEE
Report from the Trustees Disclaimer: The information in this article is subject to change without notice. If you have any questions, please contact the Alternate Student Trustee at email@example.com; NOT the Student Government Association.
Development of the Campus Town. Over the past few years the College has been in the process of designing a Campus Town. Now, we can start informing the students about our plans for this project. The goal would be to have a mix of residential and commercial development near the College to give students a reason to stay on campus. That would mean the town would have some student housing, but it would contain stores and other businesses like a Barnes and Noble, or a Gold’s Gym. We hired consultants to do an initial review of Carlton Ave. and Pennington Rd. as potential sites for this Campus Town.
After a preliminary review, we determined the creation of a Campus Town on Carlton Ave. would be difficult due to the wetlands surrounding the area. Carlton Ave. would also be too distant from the College to attract successful business. Therefore we think Pennington Rd. would be a suitable place for a Campus Town. We envisioned a Campus Town near Loser Hall. That’s right, this development would be near the entrance of the College. Another reason for this Campus Town was giving the citizens of Ewing a reason to visit our college whether for shopping or entertainment. We’re still deciding if TCNJ wants to be the primary developer for this project. Thanks to the NJ Stimulus Act that was passed this summer, we could enter into public/private partnerships with private developers so we could attract more established business while still maintaining control over what stores we would accept for the Campus Town. We only have a limited amount of time to take advantage of this, but were still in the process of analyzing our current options.
Alumni Giving Campaign. Despite our high rakings in several publications like Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report, we still have a very small endowment for a state college. Aside from a lack of state funding, there’s also the problem of alumni giving. Too many students, both current and the former, do not donate to the College for many reasons. Some alumni had a poor experience during their time here, or in the case of the balls, there’s no mechanism for students to provide feedback on the College’s decision-making process for its activities. Either way the college recognized these problems and the Trustees spent a great deal of time in researching this problem.
In an effort to increase Alumni giving for the College, the Trustees discussed several options for addressing the problem. This will be approached in two ways. For current alumni, they should be awarded for contributing to the college. This could be done in several ways; one of which could be providing a book on those that not only contributed, but also what they donated to instead of putting it all on a web page. Other ideas include inviting alumni to campus, or having them meet current students to get their perspective on the College. For current students, we will be encouraging our class officers (freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior class councils) to participate in several activities for fundraising such as going to alumni meetings, or promoting student travel. Of course, we don’t always have the best ideas. If you would like to participate in this endeavor or explain why you may or may not plan to donate to the college contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preparing for a New Governor. One of the big discussions during the retreat was the arrival of a new governor in Chris Christie. The funding of higher education has always been a problem for New Jersey. Tuition for state colleges is the second highest in the nation due to a lack of funding and the state’s failure to pay for mandated costs, especially labor contracts. Support for TCNJ is no different. In 1999, financial support from the state was about 53% of TCNJ’s revenue, but in 2008 state support was about 37%. Obviously, the lack of funding has a trickle down effect on everything we do from providing financial aid to expanding our capacity and resources for students. It shouldn’t be surprising that our state ranks first nationally in loss of college-bound students (close to 30,000 annually), which leads to a loss of about six billion per year in terms of revenue for the state.
What do we expect from our new governor? We don’t expect an increase in funding; in fact, the likely scenario is that we’ll face more cuts in funding. Our goal will be to encourage the state to maintain the current funding instead of cutting it. Where there is common ground is Christie acknowledging the need to fund higher education, and one of his proposals was the reinstatement of the Outstanding Student Recruitment Program (OSRP). Our advocacy isn’t limited to the governor. The legislature will be our main focus because the College is battling an image problem of being a wasteful spender even though we don’t receive that much money from the state. Everyone agreed that we must continue to foster relationships with our lawmakers by inviting them to campus, or having students testify in front of the Budget Committee on behalf of the college. Either way, we are expecting a productive and cordial relationship with our new governor.
Note from Mr. Little: “Want to get involved in our lobbying efforts? Sign up for the New Jersey College Promise Action Network; a database of over 3600 members committed to advocating for New Jersey’s nine state colleges. The website is www.njcollegepromise.com.”